A great book makes you feel like you’re living in the moment, right there and then with the characters. You’re living and breathing their emotions, circumstances and dilemmas. You’re familiar with their surroundings and feel like you can almost walk the same streets as them in reality. Well, you can! Real life locations around the world have often been the inspiration behind a huge variety of novels, whether they be classics or their contemporary counterparts. So, if jetting off to a beautiful destination overseas sounds up your street, why not read a novel which was also inspired by the location on your way there. Luckily, we offer a range of stunning destinations which have also played a role in novels too. Find out what some of our favourites are!
Written in 1908, half of the novel is set in Italy whilst the other half is set in Edwardian England. It focuses on a young lady named Lucy who feels the constraints of Edwardian English culture. As well as a romantic novel, E.M. Forster also uses his narrative as social commentary of English society during that period. So, you may be thinking at this point, what exactly is this so-called room with a view? Well, it’s essentially the Pension Bertolini in which the book’s characters stay during the first half. They’re told the rooms overlook the River Arno, but instead, they’re welcomed with a view of a dreary, dull courtyard.
Florence is also home to the Piazza della Signoria which features in A Room with a View. Take a tour of the famous square (just like the characters did) and admire the pleasant views. Aside from the square, Florence has many historical and cultural sights in the form of the Bargelllo National Museum – an art museum boasting Michelangelo’s works, Uffizi Gallery which houses a collection of masterpieces from the Renaissance era and Galleria dell’Accademia, yet another art museum which counts Michelangelo’s well-known statue of David among its highlights.
Overall, Florence is perfect for culture vultures who love to get their dose of fascinating artwork and eye-catching architecture whilst on holiday. You’ll also be pleased to know that you can get your very own room with a view with some of Florence’s finest hotels. Try the 4-star Degli Orafi which not only offers rooms with views of the River Arno, but it was also the location for the film featuring Helena Bonham-Carter and Maggie Smith. It boasts a breakfast room and terrace which offers views of the Arno. For an added touch of luxury, choose the 5-star Hotel Lungarno which is also close to Ponte Vecchio. Finally, the chic 4-star Balestri offers stunning river views and is even situated on the same side as the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery.
Just Kids is a 2010 memoir written by punk rock musician Patti Smith. The book which follows her to the big city of New York traces back her love for art, poetry and Robert Mapplethorpe. She delves into her memories about her climb to success as well as the struggles within her relationship with Robert. In fact, Patti Smith’s decision to write the book was a promise she had made to him. A true story which not only gives an interesting insight into Patti Smith’s work, life and relationship. But also, her connection with the city of New York.
She talks about the symbol of New York as we know it… a place of hope and dreams and a place where stars are eventually made. Although the novel paints a picture of New York in the late 60s and early 70s, some of it is still very relevant today. Smith highlights Manhattan and Brooklyn, the city’s skyscrapers, the subway and the floods of tourists roaming around. Plus, one of the main things that she highlights is of course the NYC art scene around that time. A scene that was thriving and home to a number of well-known artists like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Experience Smith’s love for art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art which hosts vast collections of ancient to modern artwork. Discover the NYC trademarks of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building which stand tall against the city’s skyline. Finally, experience the hustle and bustle, bright lights and entertainment of Times Square.
Wondering where you should stay during your trip to the Big Apple? Unfortunately, the home of rock ‘n’ roll, New York’s Hotel Chelsea, which plays a huge role in Just Kids is currently closed for renovation. But there are still many places to choose from to fully immerse yourself in the NY experience. Stay at The Manhattan at Times Square, 3-star accommodation which puts you right in the thick of buzzing Times Square. The stylish 4-star Roosevelt Hotel is a firm favourite thanks to its jazz roots and rooftop bar. Or book the 3-star Wellington Hotel which puts you right in the heart of the city, close to many attractions.
Egypt – The Alchemist, Paolo Coelho
This 1988 novel was written by Brazilian author Paolo Coelho, eventually the Portuguese O Alquimista was translated into English. As a result, it became a world-wide bestseller with many critics hailing it a must-read with a clear message about destiny. It follows a young shepherd called Santiago from the southern region of Andalusia in Spain who keeps experiencing the same dream repeatedly. After visiting a fortune teller, he embarks on a journey to the Egyptian pyramids in a bid to find hidden treasure. Along the way he falls in love and encounters a knowledgeable alchemist.
With the majority of the book taking place in Egypt, Coelho exposes the reader to the harsh conditions of the desert landscape as well as the hope and desire to visit one of the wonders of the world. There’s no doubt that with a trip to Egypt you’ll also be in awe of the pyramids along with the country’s other marvels. Just outside of Cairo you can visit the Great Pyramids, the Great Sphinx and other archaeological sites. The city of Luxor along the Nile also has fascinating sights to see including the Valley of the Kings which is where tombs of pharaohs were laid to rest. You can also investigate the temple ruins of Karnak which has a whopping number of 200 structures.
A resort in Hurghada along Egypt’s Red Sea coast will put you within a good distance of Luxor as well as offer you a range of fun facilities during your holiday. Stay at the 4-star Royal Star Beach Resort, which is the perfect base for an adventurous getaway with your loved one. If your taking the kids of a historical trip around Egypt, make the 5-star Serenity Fun City your home in Makadi Bay. Complete with an aqua park, Kids’ Club and animation team, it really is a great place to kick-start your holiday.
Kyoto, Japan – Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
Published in 1997, Arthur Golden’s novel follows the work of a fictional Geisha during the times of World War II. Set in 1920s Japan, 9-year-old Chiyo is sold into a geisha house where she is forced to work for nothing. This happens until she is considered good enough to entertain the geisha house’s clientele. Chiyo eventually becomes a remarkable geisha, however the events of World War II are looming which are bound to cause havoc in her life.
The events that happen in Memoirs of a Geisha have no doubt shaped the present-day landscape of Japan as we know it. World War II not only had an effect on Geisha culture but also Japan as a whole. You can visit the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima which is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the only structure which was left standing after the atomic bombs during the end of the war in 1945. However, Japan is home to tons of natural beauty and sights including Mount Fuji, Kyoto’s own Arashiyama (a picturesque bamboo forest) and the Kiyomizu-dera temple which is an iconic Buddhist sanctuary offering lovely scenic views.
Cartegena, Colombia – Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
Márquez’ original El amor en los tiempos del cólera was published in 1985 whilst the English translation was printed in 1988. The novel is considered one of the best literary works to come out of South America. It follows the love story of Florentino and Fermina, a relationship which is stopped in its tracks. Instead, Fermina’s father persuades her to court Dr. Juvenal Urbino who’s a doctor devoted to the eradication of cholera. Follow the ups and downs of Fermina’s love triangle and the intertwining of love sickness and cholera.
This all takes place in a fictional Colombian city near the Caribbean Sea and Magdalena River. It is often thought that this fictional city is based on Cartagena which sits along Colombia’s Caribbean coastline. Discover the stunning paradise that Colombia offers in the form of Isla Barú, a peninsula just south of Cartegena. Its crystal-clear waters make it perfect for snorkelling and swimming. Plus, head to Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas to explore this hilltop fortress and its tunnels. Finally, visit the Palace of Inquisition which is now a museum holding a range of historical artifacts.